How to Live With an Emotionally Undeveloped Man

By Eddie Capparucci, Ph.D., LPC, C-CSAS

In my counseling practice, I have heard from 100s of women who voice frustration with their men’s lack of ability to express or accept emotions. It results in relationships filled with conflict, despair, and loneliness.

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While many men would claim to have good relationships, they do not possess the ability to invest heavily in the emotional intimacy of their marriages. It simply isn’t a skill set they possess. Instead, I witnessed good men who are unaware of the concept of emotional intimacy and fail to understand how it is required to nurture and feed their relationships.

They would not know emotional intimacy if it hit them in the head.

If you asked a man what is the major issue in his relationship, a large majority would answer, “We don’t have enough sex.” And herein lay a significant part of the problem with emotionally undeveloped men. They build relationships on the foundation of physical intimacy instead of emotional intimacy. And this often leaves a partner feeling used.

So, how do some men become emotionally undeveloped? The reason is they were not provided the direction required during the early stages of childhood development to build their emotional IQ. As a child, the emotionally undeveloped man did not learn how to:

  • identify emotions beyond basic ones such as anger, happiness, sadness, and fear
  • express emotions in a healthy manner
  • be attuned to others’ needs, wants, and desires
  • accept others’ emotions without attempting to fix, dismiss or minimize them
  • be curious about people
  • demonstrate empathy
  • manage conflict positively
  • sit with emotional discomfort

And because of this, they remain stuck in childish ways demonstrating little ability to be outwardly focused on the needs and wants of others around them. They are nothing more than egocentric children in adult bodies.

Life with the emotionally undeveloped man is difficult but, it doesn’t have to be impossible. If you are involved with a good-will man, he may be open to discovering how to improve his emotional IQ. If that is the case, you can assist by going on the journey with him as he explores the part of himself that was left behind.

Be patient in understanding this is a life-long process and, he will not get it right every time. But catch him doing things correctly and often praise. When he messes up, gently point out what your expectations were and ask if he could determine how he may have handled the situation better. Together, attend an Emotions Anonymous support group and workshops that focus on emotional bonding.

If you’re not involved with a good-willed man, and he refuses to seek help for his emotional deficiencies, try to focus on those attributes you love (or at least like) about him. Point them out on a regular basis in hopes he will seek more positive feedback causing him to become more outwardly focused. Remind him of special occasions a couple of days prior. And understand you are dealing with a man who is trapped in his own world and has no idea how to break free.

I realize many of these suggestions are not what you would prefer to do, but the objective is to make life less disappointing for you. When you cannot convince an emotionally undeveloped man to seek help you have two choices, learn to accept the circumstances and adjust your expectations, or move on.

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Dr. Capparucci is a licensed-professional counselor who works with men struggling with Problematic Sexual Behaviors and emotional deficiencies. He is the creator of the Inner Child Model for treating sex/porn addiction and the author of Why Men Struggle to Love: Overcoming Relational Blind Spots and Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction.